JOHN DOOLITTLE- THE MOST OUT-OF-TOUCH PERSON IN CONGRESS
When it comes to who the argument of who's the most corrupt man-- or for the sake of argument (a certain Katherine Harris being a contender), woman-- in Congress, now that Republican Capo Di Tutti Capi Tom DeLay and greedy-but-lame foot soldier Randy "Duke" Cunnigham have resigned in disgrace-- one already in prison and the other fighting depserately to stay out-- it's absolutely impossible to come to a definitive conclusion. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) seems to be leading the pack because of his systematic bribe-taking/kickback/earmarks schemes but then you find Bob Ney (R-OH) and John Doolittle (R-CA) popping up in virtually every single scandal (except the one in William Jefferson's freezer) that has hit the Congress in the past 4 years. And just when you feel you're narrowing it down, along comes another ethics organization with accusations against Richard Pombo (R-CA) or a federal investigation opens aimed at Virgil Goode (R-VA) or Katy Harris (R-FL). And that doesn't even touch on the Senate where we have Conrad Burns (-MT) vacuuming up more Abramoff bribe money than any other memeber of either chamber or Bill Frist (R-TN) guiding legislation through Congress to make himself a billionaire, not to mention Rick Santorum (R-PA), co-designer and co-operator with DeLay of the nororious K-Street Project.
It's a problem ethicists, philosophers and political scientists will be grappling with for decades. So I'm just movin' on to a much easier topic. Forget who's the single most corrupt. Let's look at who's the single most out-of-touch. We like to think our Representatives-- if not our haughty senators-- actually represent us beyond taking home a fat paycheck (+ perks). I remember how astounded-- even mortified-- regular Americans were when it was reported that George I didn't know what a grocery story check-out scanner was in 1992, technology that was introduced into all of our lives in the '70s. For many Americans that appearance of how utterly foreign their day to day lives were from the president cemented in their minds an image of Bush as some kind of an aloof alien-- even beyond the obvious facts about how he was a multimillionaire and a son of privilege.
Last January I posted a story about two Republican solons-- Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Doolittle (R-CA) reacting to demands that lobbyists at least be forced to have their $100 lunches with congressmen reported. Doolittle recoiled in horror at the notion that he might be forced-- on his $158,000 salary-- to join the rest of us at a Baja Fresh. "Maybe you can eat at Baja Fresh," he snidely blurted out. Maybe you have some constituents, Lord Doolittle, who wish they could afford to eat lunches at Baja Fresh. Congressmen like Doolittle are so utterly out of touch with working Americans' struggles that they actually believe they are entitled to all the
Today the Center For American Progress was kind enough to point out that Doolittle, who is one of the biggest recipients of Jack Abramoff's largess (as well as one of the biggest self-entitled bribe takers in a Congress notorious for both self-entitlement and bribe-takers), has an entirely bizarre notion, due no doubt to spending virtually all of his time breathing the rarified air of power and prestige inside the Beltway, of how actual Americans live. Doolittle, formerly always found perched high above "the little people" (the ones who eat at Baja Fresh) in Jack Abramoff's exclusive and expensive corporate skybox-- watching baseball, basketball and football in luxury-- opined that already over-paid, over-fed congressmen need even more perks. He suggested 3: "'a corps of staff to assist the members, to perform routine tasks such as rides to airports, pickups, deliveries, etc;' 'an additional automobile' to use around the nation’s capital; and government-funded moving expenses when they relocate to Washington, DC."
When challenged, his flack justified Doolittle's preposterous demands by claiming-- either through grotseque ignorance or contempt for the plight of most middle class American families the policies he and Bush have supported have brought on that "'He thinks that Members of the House, the staff and all federal employees should have the same benefits that all Americans are insured with,' pointing out that federal employees, for example, currently don’t receive a dental or vision benefit."
As The Center For American Progress pointed out 41% of the American middle-class didn’t even have basic health insurance for part or all of 2005 and only 29% of companies now offer dental and vision benefits. (Statistics on how many Americans have a personal “corps of staff” to “perform routine tasks” were unavailable.) What planet is this guy on?
Well, Planet Corruption is a better guess than Planet Claire. And Northern California Democrats, independents and just fed up people in the district seem to have come up with an antidote-- upstanding citizen Charlie Brown, an actual man of the people!